Kids took over the downtown streets for fun Sunday. Photo by Adam McMillan

In photos: Open Streets Asheville Festival

The inaugural Open Streets Asheville brought residents and visitors into the streets to enjoy downtown in a new way. With Battery Park Avenue, Wall Street and portions of Haywood Street, Patton Avenue and Church Street closed to automotive traffic, folks did art projects, movement-based activities, listened to buskers and relaxed with yoga and massage.

BENEVOLENT BICEPS: Ladies Workout Asheville  owner Kim Hreha, front, will donate proceeds from her upcoming outdoor anniversary event to five area nonprofits. Photo by Jessie Fultz Photography

Conscious party: Ladies Workout Asheville celebrates 20 years in business with a fitness fundraiser

For movers, Ladies Workout Asheville’s anniversary fundraiser offers an obstacle course and walk-a-thon. Casual attendees are welcome to browse vendors to a DJ set, enter a raffle, participate in work-out demos and take the little ones inside a bouncy house. Festivities take place in the gym’s parking lot on Friday, May 20.

A PERSONAL TOUCH: Local businesses around Asheville, such as Dancing Bear Toys (above), play an indispensible role in driving the area’s economy and lending the city its unique ambiance. Through a combination of hands on ingenuity, creative approaches and a strong sense of community, Asheville’s specialty shops and boutiques are a testament to the viability of independent, locally-owned businesses in a world of big box chains and internet megastores. Photo by Max Hunt.

Local businesses drive Asheville vibe

Walk any downtown Asheville street and you’re likely to encounter some quirky storefronts offering unusual products. Together, these “specialty shops” or boutiques, most of them locally owned businesses, are a key component of the city’s distinctive flavor, attracting thousands of tourists each year and helping fuel the economy.